The Best Online Bachelor’s in Civil Engineering Programs 2021

by Matthew Sweeney
TheBestSchools.org

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A civil engineering bachelor's degree teaches students how to design society's infrastructure. Graduates go on to start careers as civil or environmental engineers, technologists, or technicians.

Civil engineering is one of the most important fields of engineering. But what is civil engineering?

Civil engineers design infrastructure: roads, bridges, dams, and other structures that enable energy production, transportation, and communications. Like all engineers, civil engineers need training and education. Consider earning an online civil engineering degree to launch your career as a civil engineer.

An online civil engineering degree covers:

Read on for a ranking of the best civil engineering programs from online colleges nationwide. You'll also learn about what a civil engineering degree can offer you, from specializations to expected pay.

The Best Online Bachelor's in Civil Engineering Programs

University of North Dakota true View School Profile $$$ Grand Forks, ND 55% 48% 49% University of North Dakota is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

A public university founded in 1883, UND offers an online bachelor of science in civil engineering. Students complete 128 credits online, including any required general education courses.

Students take courses such as fluid mechanics, transportation engineering, structural mechanics, and hydraulic engineering. Students complete both teacher-led courses and project-based instruction for hands-on experience.

Applicants need a high school diploma and a preferred minimum GPA of 2.75 to qualify for admission. Students do not need to submit SAT or ACT scores through the 2023 school year.

Old Dominion University true View School Profile $$$ Norfolk, VA 52% 56% 51% Old Dominion University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

A public university founded in 1930, ODU offers an online bachelor of science in civil engineering technology as a degree completion program. Students with some previous college experience can complete major courses online.

Required courses include sustainable building practices, soils testing laboratory, structural analysis, and fluid mechanics. Students complete a senior project to finish degree requirements. Learners must make arrangements to finish general education requirements elsewhere.

Applicants need at least 30 college credits to apply for this program. Students must also possess a minimum GPA of 2.5 to qualify for admission. Students apply as transfer students with no need for standardized test scores.

Best Online Bachelor's

Online Bachelor's in Civil Engineering Programs Ranking Guidelines

We ranked these degree programs based on quality, curricula, school awards, rankings, and reputation.

Our Methodology

Here at TheBestSchools.org, we take the trust and welfare of our readers very seriously. When making our school and program rankings, our top priority is ensuring that our readers get accurate, unbiased information that can help them make informed decisions about online education. That's why we've developed a rigorous ranking methodology that keeps the needs of our readers front and center.

Our proprietary, multi-criteria ranking algorithm analyzes key data indicators — as collected by the federal government — for each school or program. What data we use depends on the focus of each specific ranking, but in all cases, our ranking methodology is impartial: Schools cannot buy better rankings at TBS.

While specific criteria under consideration can vary by ranking, there are a few data points that we value most highly. They are affordability, academic quality, and online enrollment. Below, we break down our algorithm to help you understand what you're getting when you use one of our rankings.

  • Academics
  • Affordability
  • Online Enrollment

Data Sources

The data used in TBS rankings comes primarily from the federal government, and much of it is provided by the schools themselves. We aggregate and analyze this data to build our rankings.

The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) is our primary source. Its data comes from annual surveys conducted by the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Every college, university, or technical school with access to federal financial aid must participate in these surveys, which include questions about enrollment, graduation rates, finances, and faculty qualifications. This is publicly available data, which you can access yourself through the College Navigator.

Additionally, because we value a personal touch and the professional experience of our staff and Academic Advisory Board, we vet all results and adjust rankings as necessary based on our collected knowledge of schools and degree programs. Depending on the ranking, we may obtain additional input from AcademicInfluence.com, subject matter experts, prior TBS ranking lists, or other sources we deem relevant to a particular ranking.

Breakdown of Our Rankings Methodology

About Our Ranking Factors

Here at TBS, we value what you value: quality education, affordability, and the accessibility of online education. These factors guide all of our program rankings.

Each of these factors are further broken down into weighted subfactors. For example, retention rates are weighted more heavily than availability of program options because they are a better indicator of student success.

We chose the following factors for our rankings because of their influence on learning experiences and graduate outcomes. However, students should always balance our rankings against their personal priorities. For instance, a learner who needs a fully online program may prioritize online flexibility more than our rankings do. Our rankings are designed to help you make a decision — not to make a decision for you.

Academics - 75%
Affordability - 15%
Online Enrollment - 10%

In all our school rankings and recommendations, we work for objectivity and balance. We carefully research and compile each ranking list, and as stated in our advertising disclosure, we do NOT permit financial incentives to influence rankings. Our articles never promote or disregard a school for financial gain.

If you have questions about our ranking methodology, please feel free to connect with our staff through contact page.

We thank you for your readership and trust.

Featured Online Bachelor's in Civil Engineering Programs

What Is Civil Engineering?

Civil engineering is a subfield of engineering concerned with societal infrastructure. Civil engineers design, build, and maintain roads, dams, bridges, and other structures that keep society running smoothly.

What Is an Online Bachelor's in Civil Engineering Degree?

An online bachelor's in civil engineering degree prepares learners for work as civil or environmental engineers. Students develop skills in project management, critical thinking, and teamwork as they study advanced topics in math, physics, and engineering. The degree typically takes full-time students four years to complete.

Online civil engineering programs often offer specialized degree concentrations such as geotechnical engineering, water resources engineering, and structural engineering. Make sure to choose the right engineering program to find the right concentration for your needs.

What to Expect as a Civil Engineering Major

While online civil engineering degrees vary in terms of course offerings, specializations, and length, most programs share common characteristics. Coursework mixes practical and theoretical learning and is often divided between class time and on-site study. Students in this major frequently work in groups and employ simulation software to visualize engineering concepts.

Civil engineering majors study advanced mathematical topics like calculus, linear algebra, and differential equations. Civil engineering students also study advanced topics in physics, including fluid mechanics and mechanics of materials. Course loads for this major may be challenging.

Civil Engineering Curriculum

  • Intro to Civil Engineering: Students learn about fundamentals of civil engineering, including the importance of teamwork and civil engineering ethics. Graphic visualization software figures heavily into course content.
  • Linear Algebra and Differential Equations: This course covers foundational knowledge of linear algebra and differential equation models, and how they apply to designing and analyzing load-bearing structures. Learners learn about differential equation models that correspond to concepts such as elasticity and kinematics.
  • Fluid Mechanics: This class offers an overview of the fundamental behavior of fluids, particularly water. Students learn to apply fluid mechanics to civil engineering structures such as pipelines, hydraulic structures, and turbines and pumps.
  • Structural Analysis: This introductory course tackles methods for analyzing structural systems. Learners investigate how loads affect components of large-scale structures. They then use computer software to study the effects of virtual loads and forces on virtual structures.
  • Mechanics of Materials: This class explores how stationary structures respond to applied loads. Course topics include continuum stress and strain, truss forces, and beam bending. Students learn about civil engineering from a materials perspective.
  • Soil Mechanics: This course investigates the mechanical behavior of soil and how it responds to and supports human structures such as buildings, dams, and bridges. Students gain foundational knowledge for geotechnical engineering analysis.

Choosing an Online Civil Engineering Program

When choosing an online civil engineering program, consider factors that can influence your online educational experience. Only give serious consideration to programs from schools you can reasonably afford. Determine if the degree's length fits your timeline and if it features asynchronous or synchronous courses. Also be sure to check out programs' available concentrations to see if their offerings meet your needs.

For civil engineering, attend a school accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). If you do not, you might not receive job offers or have the ability to earn necessary licensure.

Civil Engineer Licensure

Entry-level civil engineer work does not require licensure. However, civil engineering leadership roles in most states require professional engineer (PE) licensure from the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying. PEs need a bachelor's degree and four years of supervised experience under a PE before passing their PE exam.

State licensure requirements can vary. Some states, including New York and Florida, require PEs to take continuing education to renew their licenses every two years.

Civil Engineering Career Overviews

One of the advantages of earning a degree in civil engineering is its diverse applications to careers in other engineering fields. An online civil engineering degree can help you get a job not only as a civil engineer, but also as an environmental engineer.

Environmental engineers help solve environmental issues surrounding human structures. Like civil engineers, environmental engineers need knowledge of soil and fluid mechanics. Other technicians with civil engineering degrees (e.g., civil engineering technologists) also contribute to civil engineering projects.

Civil engineers typically work in the public sector for local and state governments, and for large construction firms. Though some civil engineering majors work in the military, most civil engineers work in non-military civil engineering projects. They typically begin their careers with internships that help them gain real world experience.

The data below summarizes typical earnings in this field. Annual civil and environmental engineering salaries range from $51,000-$92,000.

Civil and Environmental Engineering Careers
Career Median Annual Wage (2020)
Environmental Engineers $92,120
Civil Engineers $88,570
Civil Engineering Technologists and Technicians $54,080
Environmental Engineering Technologists and Technicians $51,630
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Common Questions About Civil Engineering Degrees

Is It Possible to Get a Civil Engineering Degree Online?

Yes. There are a variety of ABET-accredited online civil engineering degrees, from the associate to doctoral levels. These online degrees can prepare you for PE licensure and specializations in the discipline.

Is a Civil Engineering Degree Hard?

It can be. Civil engineers study advanced concepts in mathematics and physics in order to understand how structures can withstand environmental forces and how applied loads are built. These subjects can be challenging.

What Type of Engineer Has the Highest Salary?

The BLS reports that the highest paid engineers are petroleum engineers, who earn a median annual wage of $128,230. Computer hardware engineers are not far behind, at $115,080.

What Skills Do Civil Engineers Need?

Civil engineers need strong critical thinking skills to apply different mechanical concepts to complex systems and make sure that their designs are structurally sound. They also need strong math and written and verbal communication skills.

Matthew Sweeney received his Bachelor of Arts in English with a specialization in English literature from Portland State. His writings on music and culture have appeared in the publications Eleven PDX Magazine and Secret Decoder. In his free time he enjoys reading, cinema, hiking, and cooking.

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